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Action being taken to rectify homelessness failures, council says

Action has been taken to prevent further council failures in providing suitable accommodation for those in need of a home, says the borough’s executive director.

The council’s Planning & Housing Overview and Scrutiny Panel met yesterday (Apr18) to discuss a ruling by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) which recommended the council pay compensation to a disabled man.

The man, referred to as Mr X in a report by the LGO, approached the borough for help with accommodation in December 2015 but was left to sofa surf for three months after the borough mishandled his application before later offering him an unsuitable home.

Andy Jeffs, the council’s executive director, told the meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall: “I and the officers regret and apologise for any distress that has been caused to the resident referred to as Mr X in this report.

“I’m confident that with the actions we have taken this will not reoccur.”

Mr Jeffs said that the council has paid the complainant, who suffered from mental and physical health conditions, £4175 compensation while also finding him permanent accommodation.

He added that borough has invested in a new housing system to ensure there is one database for the recording of all housing decisions.

A housing review is being carried out with councillors and officers also working on a new homelessness strategy.

Cllr Malcolm Beer (Independent, Old Windsor) asked why no mention had been made of another LGO ruling against the council in November 2017.

This involved a woman, named as Ms C, having to wait five months for her homelessness application to be dealt with by the council.

She became homeless and was then subjected to sex work.

Government guidance says applications should be dealt with in 33 days.

Cllr Beer said: “We’re supposed to have an open and transparent council.

“People keep shouting about how marvellous it is but there’s a lot going on which is pretty shady and we’re not being told about it.”

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